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Diana Agrest

(1945 - )

AGREST, DIANA (1945– ), architect. Agrest was born in Buenos Aires and received her degree in architecture from the University of Buenos Aires in 1967. She studied in France with Roland Barthes, known for his work in semiotics. Agrest and Mario *Gandelsonas , her husband, together designed a trio of apartment houses in Buenos Aires (1977) that responded to modern tradition but also explored issues such as scale, typology, and material within the classical traditions and contemporary conditions within the city. Agrest came to New York in 1971, where she became a fellow of the Institute of Architecture and Urban Studies (1972–84). She taught at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Architecture, New York, where she was an adjunct professor from 1976, and at Columbia University. She was a worldwide lecturer and also taught at Princeton and Yale universities. Her theoretical ideas are expressed in a wide variety of publications such as Skyline and Oppositions. Her books include: Architecture from Without, Theoretical Framing for a Critical Practice (1991), and The Sex of Architecture (1996). These volumes explore the symbolic performance of architecture in relation to the urban condition, the formal and ideological development of building types, the relationship between architecture and other visual discourses, including film, and, most uniquely, the position of gender and body in Western architecture. In 1980 she went into partnership with Mario Gandelsonas to form the firm A & G Development Consultants, Inc. The firm became a leader in a field which refines late modernism with semiotics and Freudian theories. A & G also designed office and apartment interiors, including furniture. A Park Avenue apartment interior (c. 1990) used materials such as pink marble, granite, and exotic woods combined in a geometric severe design. The firm built an unusual house, Villa Amore, in Sagaponack, Long Island, New York. It is made up of a cluster of buildings designed to reflect farmland that is fast becoming tracts for housing. The 8,000-sq. ft. home, completed in 1991, built partly on stilts, connects by walkways to other components. The master bath is a glass cylinder and there is a waterfall and a pool. In 2000, the firm completed the Melrose Community Center in a low-income neighborhood in the Bronx, New York. It was designed to accommodate the 3,000 youngsters who live in neighboring housing projects. The main low building is oval-shaped and the exterior is silver and red. These colors continue in the interior of the building. The 14,000-sq.ft. building took six years to complete and contains a full-size basketball court, a dark room, a restaurant-style kitchen, and a computer lab.


D. Agrest, S. Allen, and S. Ostrow, Architecture, Technique and Representation (Critical Voices in Art, Theory, and Culture) (2000).

[Betty R. Rubenstein (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.